The phrase “It is what it is” (IIWII) has been “getting my goat” for several years now, and I have no idea what it means.
I thought “It is what it is” had begun to recede from the lexicon. Disappearing as it should due to the fact it made no sense. If it is what it is, what then is it?
It seems the Americans, mostly sportspeople and politicians, are to blame. Apparently, IIWII was the 2004 “Phrase of the year” (POTY) in the United States. But there is a more substantial and plausible origin which goes back to 1940s. But even back, then take “it is what it is” out of the whole quote below it suddenly means much more…
New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without an apology.
— J. E. Lawrence, Nebraska State Journal, 1949.
I am, according to some dubious juries, a fair to middling wordsmith, as at home with shortening the vowel to lengthening the consonant as I am to flamboyantly flinging around the underused but valuable word “redolent”. And on at least seven occasions I’ve seamlessly slipped “serendipitous” into a sophisticated sentence which didn’t end with a preposition.
Have I misunderstood the POTY concept and it’s simply a pisstake? Find the most vacuous, wanky and ubiquitous statement uttered by the biggest dickhead and award it, ironically, with the POTY.
Speaking of irony (another word chronically abused), what if the US POTY was an “elephant in the room”, something so wanky that trendies simply use it, without question, lest they be exposed as uncool?
That’d be a win-win. Another wanky phrase I detest. There’s no escape. More irony, I guess.
Also on The Big Smoke
- English language spelling the end of tradition
- Introducing the TBS Vocab-extender
- TBS Vocab-extender 2: Elucidate harder
People who continue to foster the use of IIWII will only have themselves to blame when our own PM Malcolm Turnbull eventually drags it out to absolve himself of any responsibility for the failure of yet another empty and meaningless phrase; the jobs and growth 2016 election campaign mantra.
Researching a concise definition of IIWII in 2014 proved difficult with “used often in the business world, this incredibly versatile phrase can be literally translated as ‘fuck it’,” as the best definition. But upon further digging I serendipitously stumbled on this piece of gold from Benny Kenny.
A trite, overused and infuriatingly meaningless cliché that is utilized by provincials who think they are adding some deep, meaningful insight during a discussion when all they are offering is senseless, unwarranted repetitiveness to what would otherwise be a far better conversation had they not shown the shallowness of the gene pool they spawned from by using this asininely useless and redundant phrase to begin with.
— Benny Kenny, April 2009
To use another meaningless and irritating cliche…at the end of the day, IIWII is just what it is; a slovenly poor relation of the cliché family. If you mean to say “fuck it”, just shrug your shoulders and say “fuck it”. Better still, don’t say anything, which says far more than It Is What It Is.